Memory Protection Options for ARC Cores

The DesignWare® ARC® processor portfolio offers two Memory Protection Unit (MPU) options. One is available for the ARC 600 family, the other for the ARC EM and ARC HS families. The ARC MPU is a separately licensable configuration option.

The MPU provides protection by dividing the address space into regions associated with specific attributes such as read, write, and execute. If an attempt is made to access a region for which an associated attribute is not permitted, the ARC processor raises an exception, and prevents the faulting instruction from completing. Access violations raise a protection violation exception.

The ARC architecture divides the memory into 16 equal-size regions. The MPU provides a means for defining up to 16 variable-size regions and assigning read, write, and execute attributes for each region in user and kernel modes. The number of regions is configurable and is specified by the user. Acceptable values are 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16.

The ARC MPU is added to the processor RTL using the ARChitect GUI.

Default region permissions
Separate kernel and user mode permissions
Protected access to MPU auxiliary registers
Action on protection violation
Memory error interrupt EV_ProtV exception EV_ProtV exception
Precise reporting of violations
MPUFA register
Uses EFA register Uses EFA register
MPU_BUILD version field
0x01 0x02 0x02
Minimum region size
8 KB 2 KB 2 KB
MPUIC register
Renamed MPU_ECR Renamed MPU_ECR
MPUIC/MPU_ECR write violation code
01 10 10
MPUIC/PMU_ECR exception code
0x0027 0x0023 0x0023
Programmable cachability flag per region


  • Programmable read, write and execute permissions
  • Separate Kernel and User mode Read/Write/Execute permissions
  • 1, 2, 4, 8 or 16 memory regions, selectable at configuration time
  • Minimal gate count impact, scalable with user configuration
  • Default permissions, for all locations not covered by a defined region
  • Designed to coexist with other protection mechanisms, such as IP (code) protection on ARC EM and HS, and ARC Secure on ARC 600